Thursday, August 16, 2012!

One thing I’m liking very much about the part of Mexico we’re visiting is the somewhat quiet, almost neighborhood-like nature of it. Playa del Carmen has narrow, cobblestoned streets (complete with absolutely killer, no-playing-around speed bumps every half-mile or so, which force a car to bounce down/up/down/up at about 10 mph…making good and sure everyone slows down and watches for the many pedestrians). There are maybe a dozen resorts, and a plethora of small houses for rent to vacationers as well. Cars, taxis, and shuttles actually have to pass by a guard checkpoint to enter the area—and the boys recently noticed that those in charge of stopping vehicles…have machine guns at their disposal. There always seem to be people walking, jogging, and bicycling along the tree-lined avenues. It just feels like a safe and non-party-animal kind of place to hang out. (i.e: NOT Cancun!) We’ve noticed quite a variety among our fellow holiday-goers as well: couples (both younger and older), groups of friends, families with children of all ages.

To begin today’s entertainment, we had decided to amble to the Plaza Central in our after-breakfast time. (Because really, what’s better to settle the stomach than…shopping for souvenirs? Eh, we’re tourists, we can act like it, right?) And it was, as expected, a total “take the suckers for all their American dinero” kind of place. But that didn’t stop us from meandering in and out of the stalls and storefronts, picking through the made-in-China junk, in search of something at least a little bit authentic to remind us of our viaje a Mexico. At every turn, we were accosted by (smiling-but-pushy) salespeople trying to rope us into a tour of some kind. We rapidly got very practiced at the friendly wave, accompanied by a firm “no, gracias.” But one guy did make us laugh when he grinned at us, pointed at Riley and asked, “How much for the little one?” (Um…”no…gracias?”) And another man tried to get our attention by calling, “Hey, where you from?” When we declined to respond, he started guessing: “Poland? England? Canada? Russia?” WHAT? I know we’ve been diligent and thorough with the sunscreen in the blazing Mexican sun…but just how pale are we?

Anyway, the boys did eventually choose small mementos to bring home, and we pounded the pavement for several miles in for our first walk of the day. Not bad for a morning’s work—I mean “recreation”!

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